WHAT AN ODDBALL QUESTION, I thought.
It came from William Wills, who wins a free copy of a book of mine for asking the question. (William, email me for the list of books I have to choose from.)
Here’s his question:
“Who was the woman in Genesis that was spoken about before Eve was created?”
I had no idea what he was talking about. So I asked him, “What are you talking about?”
He pointed me to Genesis 1:27.
“God created human beings in his image. In the image of God he created them. He created them male and female.“
Then he pointed me to Genesis 2.
“God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is right for him.’…. God caused the man to sleep very deeply, and while he was asleep, God removed one of the man’s ribs. Then God closed up the man’s skin at the place where he took the rib. The Lord God used the rib from the man to make a woman, and then he brought the woman to the man.”
It surprised me that someone would read those two reports and come up with the idea that God’s creation started with a threesome: Adam and two freshly minted ladies.
But for many men that version could sound sweet. Heaven on earth. Paradise, until the ladies started arguing over closet space for fig leaves and leather.
There are two other ways Christians interpret the two stories about God creating humans.
Most Christians I know seem to believe that both stories refer to the same couple: Adam and Eve. Chapter one simply reports the creation of the first couple. Chapter two fills in some of the details. No brainer.
Yet most brainiac Bible scholars I know of seem to believe the stories in chapter one and two came from two different sources—as two accounts of God’s creation of human beings. The story in chapter one got told over many campfires for centuries. The story in chapter two got told over many other campfires. And when it came time to write down the stories in Genesis, the writer included them both.
Most Christians say they read these stories as history.
Many Bible experts don’t. They say the creation stories are a little like the parables of Jesus, intended to paint pictures in our brains to help us understand that it was God who created everything that exists.
Scholars say the writer probably did this to steer people away from other creation stories written in what is now Iraq several centuries before Moses, the man usually credited with writing the anonymous book of Genesis.
That idea gets a bunch of Christians upset.
They say that if the story is in the Bible, we should take it as God’s Word. Some scholars would argue that there are different ways to interpret ancient lit, and there’s nothing wrong with exploring the options.
But don’t jump the gun, gentlemen, and start searching eHarmony.com for a second wife. That would be presumptuous. And kind of illegal.